If you can bear looking into the pit of hell on earth which humans can create, you ought to check out The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Prof. Gary Morson provides us a glimpse of the book in his Wall Street Journal article, “The Gulag Archipelago”: An Epic of True Evil.
Solzhenitsyn describes, in three volumes, the ideological goal of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Their desired outcome was the mass incarceration in forced labor camps, working in temperatures of -40° or -60°, without sufficient nutrition to stay alive, leading to the fully expected death of millions of non-conforming people.
Descriptions of the routine punishments in the camp turn the stomach.
More frightening is Solzhenitsyn’s description that this pure evil is not limited to just socialism and communism. He declares “alas, all the evil of the 20th century is possible everywhere on earth.” More on that warning in a moment.
What made the torture, starvation, and death of millions possible was communism’s ability to bring ideology into everything.
How is it possible to torture an innocent person, knowing full well they are innocent? It takes more than someone who know they are doing evil. It requires a person to believe they are in the right, to know they are just, to know they are pure and anyone who dares disagree with the government is evil. When everyone who disagrees with declared orthodoxy of the state is evil then it is acceptable to imprison, torture, and kill said evil person.
This ideology flourished in the communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, fascist Germany under National Socialism, imperial Japan, and everywhere communism rules today.
Making this even more frightening is the behavior is not limited to socialists, communists, and fascists. The dividing line between good and evil exists in every heart.
Solzhenitsyn states: “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart.”
This in turn drives us to our knees and hopefully leads us to religion for the proper analysis and solution, especially Christianity. The author reminds us Solzhenitsyn realized “the truth of all the religions of the world: They struggle with the evil inside a human being (inside every human being).”
The realization that the absolute evil of communism is possible in my heart, your heart, your friend’s hearts, the heart of every public health official, and every politician is sobering. That we have seen this evil acted out in our country over the last three years should sober us all.
There is only one solution for the evil that exists in my heart and your heart. That solution, Christ, is a topic for another day.
Prof. Morson explains The Gulag Archipelago ends up being optimistic, by explaining Solzhenitsyn realized this line between good and evil ran through his heart and he chose not to pursue the evil. He chose Christianity.
Solzhenitsyn provides a warning about socialism and communism, a warning we need to grasp in the West today. The warning this evil can happen anywhere, including inside my heart is clear. We need to understand this at the culture level. We desperately need to consider this message in terms of our own heart.